PAY ATTENTION

FullSizeRenderThe funny little item you’re looking at is not a “billy club.” This instrument is what smoothie lovers call the Classic Vitamix Tamper. My tamper was abused this morning because of improper use, that is, my hurried attempt to push down kale, blueberries, and pineapple into my Vitamix blender without—let me say that again—without positioning the lid and fitting it snugly into the top of the Vitamix.

I’m guessing that a large percentage of people reading this also own a Vitamix or something similar to it. The tamper is an important piece of equipment, as it enables us to crush, chip, blend and liquefy almost anything. The controlling word here is almost.

I’ve been making delicious, healthy smoothies with my Vitamix for more than a decade. With ease, I might add, and hardly a fuss. But today, I lost my focus. I got distracted. I stopped paying attention to what I was doing. The result: A Total Disaster.

The moment—the very instant—I felt the tip of my tamper hit the Vitamix blades and heard the unfamiliar grinding and whirring, I pulled out the tamper, uttered a few choice expletives and hit the off button. All in .5 seconds.

Then, again, without thinking, I angrily dumped the contents into the sink, forgetting that the broken slivers of hard plastic were in that mix of fruit, kale and coconut water. Now the disposal was gagging on the shrapnel of my haste and inattention. So I spent the next 20 minutes squeezing my hand into the disposal to pick out those tiny pieces of unblendable plastic. I did remember to turn off the disposal first.

I had lost my focus.

I don’t multi-task very well. Years ago, my own kids complained and joked that I couldn’t drive and talk at the same time. Maybe it’s because I tried to maintain eye contact to make sure I was bonding properly with them. As it turns out, Sally now has the task of reminding me to drive, to not talk and look around at houses.

Focus is critical. Sometimes life-altering. We won’t get very far—driving a car or making smoothies—unless we give ourselves wholly to the task before us. Nothing significant gets done when we are trying to do everything. Paying attention to what’s most important to us—what consistently tugs at our hearts—often feels like a luxury. Some might even say we are being selfish.

I wish it were enough for me to just say that we’ve all been given permission to be who we are and to follow the desires of our hearts,  to let those deepest longings push through and into our own lives. I’d love to say to everyone, “Just go for it!” But that kind of permission cannot come from me. That kind of permission can only come from each one of us. From within each of us.

This brings me to my real point. We have to decide what we want. We have to get good at setting and then, protecting our goals. Good, thought-through and well-defined goals will tell our brains what to pay attention to. We will always do better when we put the lid on properly and keep our eyes on the road. We will be utterly amazed at what happens when we start paying attention to the precious life we have been given.